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Style is fundamental in Olympic Skateboarding

October 31, 2022, interview with Marcos Hiroshi

Subjectiveness, originality and fearless tricks are the secrets to success in Olympic skateboarding.

In this third part of the interview with Marcos Hiroshi we get a comprehensive view about how judges value a good trick. Stay foolish is still a good mantra.

How have the Olympics changed skateboarding in Brazil?

We got the power to advocate. Skateboarding now has the same importance and relevance as many other sports. Now we can talk to politicians and demand a skatepark like other sports demand new facilities.

Skateboarding is becoming more popular in Brazil…

Yes, even folks who didn't know anything about skateboarding are now more curious. People want to know more about skateboarding and hear stories about their heroes. The bad image of skateboarding belongs to the past. A rider is not an outcast anymore. Skateboarding is now a kid’s sport. It's something that brings all people together. It's more than just winning or taking over the other one to rule. The image of that girl being raised was a landmark in the Olympics. The Japanese skater, Misugu Okamoto, missed the podium after bailing a flip attempt and falling into the concrete bowl. While she was crying, other competitors showed up to hug her and lifted her on their shoulders, becoming one of the most powerful images of that competition. This was the perfect calling card of skateboarding. Now you have that uncle who during a family dinner is talking about the young girls who are rocking in skateboarding, like Rayssa Leal. That's a good thing, because people are interested in skateboarding and it unites people.

It is about empowerment.

Thanks to this, riders are receiving scholarships. They do not ride just to get a sponsor; they get money from the state or local government. That money will sustain the skater and that is a huge change! Furthermore, many specialists started to work on the backstage: therapists, physiotherapists, coaches, referees… people who became professionals. I was in Tokyo during the Olympics and people from other sports were saying ‘hey, I like the way things work in skateboarding.’ They got impressed.

You have conquered a place…

Yes, but we are having some disputes with Worldskate, which is more related to roller skate. Skateboarding wants to take their own decisions and follow its own path. Worldskate has nothing to do with skateboarding. Fortunately, skateboarding is rising in other countries due to the Olympics. I went to China recently and I noticed how powerful skateboarding is. I saw some exceptionally good things in Turkey too.

You are a judge member at skateboarding competitions, including the Olympics. How subjective is your analysis?

There is a fixed value for a trick. The extra comes from other factors like did he do that it at the limit, the speed, style... For that we give hundredths of a point and that is what makes the difference. Let us say a deep slide is worth 5,10 but the guy who does that perfectly and with style gets 5,86. We value the one who makes the difference. It's not like snowboarding, where there are mandatory maneuvers with a closed and fixed value. Subjectiveness is one of the more important parts of skateboarding. Style and individuality mean a lot, which is the essence of skateboarding. We stand to prevent riders to become robots.

How do the judges establish judgment rules?

The CBSK created referee courses to explain, in each state, how the evaluation system works. Judges learn how to take notes, what to pay attention to, etc.

Do you watch training sessions to?

Yes. In the Olympics we must watch all training sessions since day one.

Is there a specific training sessions’ number?

Yes. If a competition starts on Thursday, then Tuesday and Wednesday are dedicated to practice and official training sessions. That is when we see what the athletes are preparing and what they are going to do in competition. We start to study them on previous days. Based on that we, the judges, start to set an average to a special trick.

Give me an example.

Let us say we see a guy doing a flipnose blunt. We start to discuss: how much should we grade it? And then we start to make charts to divide it in those items that we talked about before. We go to the park, too, to try it. It is impossible to understand the difficulty level of the obstacles from a higher point of view. By going there, we see the distance between obstacles, how high they are, witch side is more difficult, if there is a crack. Those details will help us to have a full guide and to give a fair rate.

You must decide very quickly.

Because competitions have TV broadcasting, judges cannot debate rates, we must decide almost immediately. We have 15/20 seconds to do it. That is why we prepare everything in advance.

Is there a chance of a rider surprising you during a competition?

That is almost impossible. If a rider wants to show a new trick, he must try it before, at training sessions, where we are studying them. I remember one time a guy doing a Caballerial nose flip. He was just trying, but we started to debate ‘how are we going to score this if he does it during the competition’?

How many judges were you at the Olympics, in Tokyo?

Five judges and a head judge. I was a park judge.

Are the Olympics changing the skateboarding categories? Mixing styles in one competition is the future?

Yes, the future is to combine all features at one single track. The rider of the future will be the one who has not just a category, he must do everything well. It is by watching championships that you see who has that profile. Andy Anderson is a good example; he is someone from freestyle who rocks in park. Park is still too attached to bowl and vert; the future will be a fusion of all these categories.

Instagram Marcos Hiroshi Read interview part 2

By Manu Silva

How Troubl3 Keeps Making Trouble with Skateboards

June 29 2022 - Interview with Troubl3  “I always have been a troublemaker”. If Andrew, 41, had to pitch his idea, this could be a good punchline. It’s one of those cases where a business’s name is not just marketing, but a character’s extension. "So, Troubl3 is giving the middle finger to a lot of skate shops that do not support local people." Andrew (Owner Troubl3)   VISIT WEBSITE TROUBL3 is a Canadian skateboard shop based in Otawa. It was born in 2018 from the desire to go against the flow. “Skateboarding industry has become a mass production machine. Everything comes from China or Mexico, where people are not paid right. I buy something for one hundred dollars that really costs ten dollars”, he claims. “Then I thought: if I’m going to be a troublemaker, I might do something different. If I’m making a board it’s got to be unique like any skater is. I’m going to make one by one; it’s going to be tougher, it’s going to last more, every single board is going to be different. When you buy, it’s not just a board, it’s a piece of art and an experience”, he adds. This is something “one hundred percent customized”, from size, shape, wheels base, and a “seven veneer deck”. He proudly details: “Each veneer that goes into each deck is hand picked.” He buys local (wood from Quebec, for instance) in small batches, presses, shapes and hand paints the decks himself also, when he can, he promotes local artists to draw on the skateboards. “So, Troubl3 is giving the middle finger to a lot of skate shops that do not support local people who make stuff. They say they are local, but do not buy local”, Andrew reenforces, protesting against the rules of the game. “I always compare skateboards with pizza. I love pizza: a large one costs 50 bucks, the same you pay for a skateboard sometimes. Those skateboards are made overseas, they cost nothing to make, the price of pizza is gone to double, but the price of skateboards stayed the same for 30 years." “I evoke Paul Schmitt’s case all the time: a big name in this industry who shifted his business from California to Tijuana because people want to keep the price of a skateboard at 50 of 60 dollars for eternity. So, to keep his business going and pay his people, he had to move”, Andrew says.   He likes to be different. “Being marginalized is something good in skateboarding”. Although he admits the way he runs business is not sustainable: “The breakeven would be making 250 skateboards a month. Right now, I have had a month when I made four or five, others one or two.” It doesn’t matter. He believes this is the way. And he gives a discount if people really ride them and not just hang his skateboards on the wall. Authenticity is his brand, like the style he prefers for riders: “I like to see the most unorthodox skater. Do you do treflips? Fantastic, so can any other kid. I don’t care, throw your board against the wall, flip it on your head, do a back flip, do something I want to see. It’s different, do skateboarding and not do what others do.” “There’s a kid in Indonesia I started to follow who's skateboarding reminds me of a young Christian Hosoi. When I see the kid skate I can recognize Christian Hosoi’s influence. Can you recognize the inventors of other tricks you see people do at the park?”, he asks. Andrew sponsors five “troublemakers”: Eric Martin (Ontario), Dustin Lawrence (Ontario), Connor Callan aka Meat Feet (Arizona), Luis Uribe (Texas), Shinichi Nichiyama (Japan). He enjoys watching them and supports them the way he can. About his local skateparks, Andrew recommends: Bob MacQuarrie skatepark in Otawa Joel Gauthier skatepark in Rockland Local bus stop where where it's super smooth and is perfect for slappies, now that people stopped using busses, due to Covid, it's always empty and available.

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